Tag Archives: Young Adult Fiction

Team ALBTALBS TBR Challenge Review: The Tale of Birle née On Fortune’s Wheel by Cynthia Voigt

The Tale of Birle née On Fortune’s Wheel by Cynthia Voigt
Young Adult Speculative Fiction originally published by Atheneum on March 1, 1990, Reprinted and titled May 26, 2015

On Fortune's WheelBirle has agreed to be wed to the huntsman Muir as an escape from the drudgery of life at her father’s inn—but the moment she looks into the bellflower-blue eyes of the man she comes upon stealing one of her father’s boats, Birle knows she cannot marry Muir. Even after she discovers the mysterious stranger is Orien, a lord, and as unreachable to an innkeeper’s daughter as a star, Birle is determined to travel with him as far as he will allow. Their journey takes Birle to a world far from home, a world where lords may become slaves, where princes rule by fear, and where fortune’s wheel turns more swiftly and dangerously than Birle could have ever imagined.

I have a 1991 print of this book, but stairs are beyond me so I can’t get it and type out that blurb/back cover copy, which is annoying me. Anyway, this is a “cheat” because it hadn’t been in my TBR pile, but I was struck with the sudden urge to re-read it, and I think it fits the “something different” because it is rare I read something that isn’t romance. (Or law.)

I have to admit, I pretty much always skip Part I: The Inkeeper’s Daughter in my re-reads. While yes, it’s where Birle and Orien meet, I feel there’s too much disparity between them. Orien is clearly a nobleman, while Birle is “of the people.” He’s older, worldlier, and on a mission. Birle goes along with him because she falls in love the first time she truly sees him. (And she doesn’t have much in her current life.) She’s smitten as only a young girl can be the first time she sees a dashing man. It’s the journey they’re forced to take together that makes things different, and I feel parity is only beginning when we hit Part II: The Philosopher’s Amanuensis. And that’s where the story truly begins. Continue reading

Guest Review: Don’t You Wish by Roxanne St. Claire

*Barbie’s Review

Don’t You Wish by Roxanne St. Claire
Young Adult Fiction released by Delacorte Books for Young Readers on July 10, 2012

When plain and unpopular Annie Nutter gets zapped by one of her dad’s whacked-out inventions, she lands in a parallel universe where her life becomes picture-perfect. Now she’s Ayla Monroe, daughter of the same mother but a different father–and she’s the gorgeous, rich queen bee of her high school.

In this universe, Ayla lives in glitzy Miami instead of dreary Pittsburgh and has beaucoup bucks, courtesy of her billionaire–if usually absent–father. Her friends hit the clubs, party backstage at concerts, and take risks that are exhilarating . . . and illegal.

But on the insde, Ayla is still Annie.

So when she’s offered the chance to leave the dream life and head home to Pittsburgh, will she take it?

The choice isn’t as simple as you think.

I don’t read much YA at all, especially nowadays, because they all seem to have the exact same premise. I only picked up this one up because it was by Roxanne St. Claire, who’s been one of my favorite authors in her other genres, and it wanted to give it a shot. Don’t You Wish really surprised me in a great way, because it seems to be different from the current YA books being published. This books has such a fun, innovative story, with a creative, fast-paced, plot and lovable characters. I devoured it like a beloved desert. I’ve loved every page of this book. It’s been one of my favorite reads this year!

Annie Nutter is supposedly your average girl, as she doesn’t get noticed at school and doesn’t get to hang out with the popular crowd at school. She’s just a band dork who gets made fun of. Annie is really nice and fun, but she’s shy and doesn’t show that much of her lovable personality to the world. At the point where she becomes Ayla Monroe on the outside, yet continues to be Annie on the inside, is where the true beauty of the character lies. Because of this – Annie gets this huge initiative and changes Ayla’s life. A life that would seem to perfect for everyone that wasn’t really living it. It’s like Annie gets the spark to light the fire within [Ayla] and starts to proactively make things better.  And Annie finally stands up for herself. I love that about her.

Then, there’s Charlie, a geeky guy, within a picture perfect world who gets bullied for not being rich enough for the Crop Academy. He befriends Annie as Ayla. Of course, the real Ayla would never have befriended him. Charlie is a key character as it’s his genius that eventually helps Annie figure out her final solution. Charlie is a very authentic, multi-layered character. He’s so real to me, I have a physical image that I associate with him. Charlie is brilliant, and he’s not very trusting of other people. He’s more vulnerable than he appears to be, and it’s very hard for the reader not to wish you had a guy like him when you were in high school. Think *insta-crush*. He’s a really great character, and you can’t help but keep rooting for him and Annie to end up together..

I have to admit, even though Annie has a very nice and sweet best friend in real world, it was the character of Ayla’s “Dumb-Blonde-Friend” Bliss that made me laugh out loud. Bliss was my favorite secondary character. She brought a lot of fantastic humor to the book. I would have liked to see what happened to Ayla’s life after Annie left and Ayla’s real soul returned, as Annie changed so many things, from minute details to relationships with friends, classmates and parents. Perhaps this was the only thing that was lacking in the book for me. The “after” scenes.

One of the best things about Don’t You Wish is that it’s not a depressing, angsty book. This is what separates it from the paranormal YA books nowadays – because as it’s about parallel words, the book does have some paranormal elements. This story is a fun, light-hearted book, that is above all, a very pleasurable read. I recommend it to everyone that loves a really unique story, a good laugh and really interesting characters.

Grade: A+ 

You can read an excerpt here, or buy a copy here.

Review: Crushed by K.C. Blake

Liz’s Review

Crushed by K.C. Blake
Young Adult fiction published by K.C. Blake on July 30, 2011

The Noah sisters rule Titan High with their beauty, brains, and magical powers.

Each year they play a secret game: Crushed. The girls pick their targets carefully and blow enchanted dust into the boy’s faces, charming them, but this year Kristen makes a grave mistake. She chooses the wrong boy and almost dies that same day. Coincidence? Maybe.

But something isn’t quite right about Zach Bevian. He doesn’t behave like a boy who’s been Crushed. He goes from hot to cold, from looking at her with contempt to asking her out on a date. She doesn’t know what to think. Does he hate her or is he truly falling for her? Is he trying to kill her, or is he trying to save her?

This YA novel is set in the hallways of fictional Titan High, where three witch sisters – Kristen, Brittany, and Cindi – walk among mortals who are none the wiser to their powers.  The puppy loves spell allows them to control their choice, and they increase their power over him by asking him to complete tasks.  Each completed task draws him further under the girl’s control.  The winner at the end of the semester is the one that has the boy under the most control, and the girl’s aren’t shy about having their choices do ridiculous and humiliating things to test their power.  Kristen has plans to be the winner this year so she can afford a spectacular prom dress, when Brittany dares her to “crush” the baddest bad boy in school – Zach Bevian.  Suddenly, the boy she hates is under her power, or so she thinks.

Kristen is older than her teenage years, striving to be the “good girl” and living up to the hard expectations that her father has leveled onto her since she was a child.  She’s one of the unfortunately beautiful girls, who is smart and witty but floundering socially.  They live with their father during the year and mother during the summer, and as the book moves forward we find that Kristen is feeling the noose of adulthood tighten around her neck while she is still young.  So what’s a girl to do?  Rebel, of course!

Zach Bevian is a young man with a secret, who harbors great resentment for the Noah sisters and their queen-bee behavior in school.  Typical bad boy, Zach has the hot car, the hotter motorcycle, and the splendid body that girls drool over.  His autistic sister Morgan is all that is left of his family, and he takes great care to not upset their home life.  The book switches to his point of view at times, and the reader is given a glimpse into the burdens that weigh him down.  I enjoyed that although he’s strong, he’s vulnerable with his sister.  It gave his character depth.

Sisters Brittany and Cindi dress identically although they are triplets with Kristen.  Cindi is the softer spoken of the two, but when tricked by Kirsten early on in the book, she proves to be just as much a wildcat as Brittany.  Brittany is the ultimate bad-girl, skipping school and causing her father and sisters grief, while scheming to get back at Kristen for breaking the rules in the crush game.

I had only two real complaints with the way the characters were drawn in the book.  First, the reason for Kristen’s deep hatred of Zach isn’t very clear.  Although she knows him and he knows her, they don’t appear to hang in the same social circles, so the hate and the disgust at having to “crush” him seemed tacked on.  We know why he doesn’t like her or her sisters, we just don’t know why she doesn’t like him.  The other issue I have is that during the book, Kristen and her sister Brittany get into a supernatural standoff and begin attacking each other.  Kristen says on more than one occasion that Brittany is going to kill her, but the statements are hollow.  If I were in Kristen’s shoes and my sister wanted to kill me and could do it easily with magic, I’d be freaked out.  Especially as a teenager.  Although Kristen seeks help from her witch grandmother for a protection spell, the spell goes unused.  The lack of urgency, teen angsty drama, or genuine fear left me wondering why I was worried about her life…if she wasn’t.

When I expected a simple “I’m not as bad as you think I am” romance between the two main characters, Blake added suspense to the budding romance, giving Zach plenty of opportunities to appear the knight for her.  There were times when I didn’t really know who was causing trouble in Kristen’s life or what Zach’s many secrets were.  The magic/fight scenes were fast paced and engaging, and one of my favorite parts was Kristen’s first real date.  When she had Zach pick her up at the library so her father wouldn’t know, it took me back to my early dating days when the “bad boy” and I would meet somewhere besides my home so we could go out.

I haven’t picked up a YA book since I hopped on the bandwagon and read Twilight several years ago.  While I definitely would have devoured this light supernatural romance as a teenager, I also enjoyed reading it as an adult.  I’d be comfortable recommending it to my 14 year old niece, as well as any adult that enjoys a little suspense mixed in with a trip down memory lane to what it felt like to really like that first boy in high school, to anticipate that first kiss that played so perfectly in your mind.  The world that Blake created was unique, from the witch council that everyone feared to the way the girls wove their spells.  I found Crushed to be an enjoyable read overall and look forward to reading more from this author.

Charming and fun, but strictly for a specific audience, i.e., light romance (no sex as the characters are underage), paranormal aspects, suspense and for those that enjoy sarcastic teen witches and brooding boys finding love in the locker covered hallways in high school.  This book is available on both Smashwords and Amazon.

Grade: C+

You can read an excerpt here.